This Brilliant Robotics Kit Will Make Your Kid Into A Coder

Sony's KOOV might be the future of STEM education.

img xmga9t107wdzt2vskgit

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of STEM education. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields have grown consistently over the last few decades, and that trend won’t reverse anytime soon.

Unfortunately, most children give up on STEM. By the time they reach high school, only about 1 in 4 kids will want to pursue a STEM major or career; about 60 percent of those students will eventually lose their interest. To enjoy consistent success in these fields, children need to develop literacy by nurturing relevant skills.

The KOOV Approach to STEM

Enter KOOV, an intriguing new set of learning products from Sony Electronics and Sony Global Education.

HealthyWay

Launched on Indiegogo, the KOOV coding & robotics system gives kids the building blocks to STEM success—literally. KOOV allows children to build functional robots out of blocks, then use a mobile app to create working code.

Children can choose from a variety of pre-designed robots, creating everything from monkeys to dinosaurs by following step-by-step instructions (or “robot recipes”). As they develop their skills, they’ll begin designing their robots, choosing their own features, and writing their own code.

HealthyWay

For kids aged 8 and older, each part of the system seems familiar and intuitive. The bright-colored blocks snap together easily. The mobile app’s graphical coding interface features a clean, simple workspace. The various electronic components are simple, but powerful enough to perform fairly complex tasks.

But over time, the true capabilities of the KOOV set become apparent. Two blocks, for instance, can fit together in more than 120 combinations, and a variety of sensors, actuators, and motors let kids create remarkably complex devices.

HealthyWay

Innovative Code Learning Tools

On their own, these tools would likely inspire children to develop strong problem-solving and creative skills—essentials in STEM literacy. But the real heart of the KOOV system is a 30+ hour educational course, which focuses on coding, robotics, and design to give children a comprehensive background in robotics and coding.

As the app loads, it presents kids with a naturally engaging touch interface. KOOVers pull commands into place, forming working code blocks. The learning course uses a step-by-step approach, rewarding children with badges as they progress.

HealthyWay

Each set of lessons introduces a new core subject, starting with coding basics. By the end of the course, kids understand variables, random numbers, infinite loops, functions, and other important concepts.

With some nurturing, a KOOV learner can easily use these skills to learn other programming languages. In fact, the next generation of KOOV might be built by today’s KOOV kids.

KOOV Kit Options for Young Creators

KOOV offers several kits tailored towards young learners of all skill levels. The KOOV Basic Kit, for instance, provides 115 blocks and accessories, along with 8 electronic parts and 5 robot recipes, while the KOOV Starter Kit includes 172 blocks with 15 electronic parts and 14 recipes.

Each kit is surprisingly affordable, with the least expensive coming in at under $200 (paired with a 20 percent discount for early Indiegogo backers).

HealthyWay

Currently, the KOOV program is inspiring thousands of young minds in Japan and China. In the United States, the project launched on Indiegogo; Sony chose to introduce KOOV through the crowdsourcing platform in order to get direct feedback from parents prior to the system’s retail launch.

A Safe Way to Learn Coding Online

KOOV’s growing international base may become one of its biggest strengths. KOOVers can use the app’s community to share robot recipes with their peers, so the number of available recipes is expected to grow substantially over the next several years.

To safely incorporate this social element, Sony implemented a carefully controlled moderation system. Each KOOV post is individually reviewed by an actual person before it’s publicly viewable. Children can safely learn, play, and share their creations, and parents get the peace of mind that comes with a truly safe online experience.

Real Robots, Real STEM Skills

Sony’s robotics engineers contributed heavily to the project, focusing on encouraging kids by simply describing complex concepts.

KOOV’s fundamental mission is to teach real skills in an engaging, intuitive way. Children aren’t simply building their robots—although that’s certainly a part of the experience—they’re understanding the processes that drive each blinking light and motion sensor.

“For example, when kids start to use a LED for the first time, we show them exactly: what is a LED?” says Jeff Carlin, marketing manager for Sony Electronics. “Where can I see it in real life? How is it relevant to me? Then we show them how they can use code to make it come alive.”

Instead of simply teaching a single lesson, KOOV motivates children to explore the world of science and technology on their own. The goal is to keep KOOV kids interested in STEM through high school, college, and into their careers.

“This is not a toy,” says Naasira Wahid, marketing program manager for Sony Electronics. “This is a tool to lead your child into steps towards their future.”

With that said, it is a lot of fun—and that’s what makes KOOV such a compelling and rewarding experience. Find out more about the project or donate to its Indiegogo campaign here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR